Are Maine Coons Lap Cats?

This is an attempt to provide a definite and honest answer to this question.

The answer is probably, no but it is not as simple as that. First common sense dictates that it is impossible to state hard facts about the character and personality of all the cats of a single, specific breed. When you think about it, it has to be impractical to try and do that because individual cats have their own character. Also you’ll get differences between male and female cats and neutered and whole cats within a cat breed. However, many websites and books like to give an indication as to the character of cats of a breed because people who want to adopt like to know beforehand. Invariably there is a great deal of generalisation. It is a bit like the long range weather forecast.

Ginger tabby Maine Coon cat

Red Maine Coon “Reginald Rumford Rosenberg”

Understandably, the cat fancy likes to separate out the breeds in character as well as appearance. But breeders tend to breed for appearance and socialisation (acceptance of people and animals) and not character. Although a good breeding cat will have a nice character, will the character of the cats of one breed be that different to the character of cats of another breed? My conclusion is that they won’t be very different.

With that ‘warning’ out of the way, what do the books and websites say about the Maine Coon? This is where we encounter another problem! The desire to curl up on someone’s lap is a very specific behavioral trait. You might care for a cat that likes to sleep against you in bed but who rarely sleeps on your lap. Your cat might be very friendly and close to you (a really nice cat companion) but not be lap cat. What I am saying is that experts can’t say for sure whether cats of a cat breed will be lap cats. You can describe a cats of a breed as ‘docile’ or ‘loyal’ but not that they are lap cats!

O.K. What do the experts say? I don’t consider myself an expert but my view is that the Maine Coon is not known to be a lap cat.

Gloria Stephens the author with the famous photographer Tetsu, of Legacy of the Cat (ISBN 0-8118-2910-3) says the Maine Coon is ‘relaxed and easy going’. A good start then and an indication that this popular breed could like a cosy lap. She writes that they are people orientated and good with children and dogs. They don’t demand attention and don’t necessarily like to be held. The Maine Coon forms close bonds with their human caretaker and like to be close to them. So there you have it. You make you mind up whether a Maine Coon is a lap cat. I sense not from this description.

Dr Fogle of The Encyclopedia of the Cat (ISBN 978-1-4053-2149-5) describes the Maine Coon as ‘strong and tranquil”. This cat is often described as a ‘gentle giant’. You will see that phrase used a lot on the internet. Perhaps the key phrase is that cats of this breed are ‘independent’ and he or she likes to do their own thing. This indicates a cat that is slightly unlikely to be a lap cat.

The best answer would come from people who live with Maine Coons. I have had the pleasure of living with two Maine Coons when I stayed with Ken and Helmi Flick near Dallas, Texas. Zak liked me. And I adored him. He came on my bed. I never saw him on a lap over the time I was there (over 2 weeks in total). I would agree with Gloria Stephens’s description. I would conclude that the majority of Maine Coons are not lap cats.

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Are Maine Coons Lap Cats? — 7 Comments

  1. Now you are in my arena. I run a large domestic breed cat group on Flickr: Really HUGE Cats/Really CUTE Kittens and Cubs. RHC/RCKC for short. We have discussed Maine Coons in length on my group and two others. Basically, the consensus was that Maine Coons think they are humans and will sit next to you on a couch for instance, with a paw just millimeters from your leg. As they get bigger (it takes five full years to mature) they will drape a paw across your leg. This was thought to be more of a “you’re mine” gesture.
    Our Nicky was 22 lbs/ 8.2 Kg and easily took up two thirds of the couch by age 1 1/2. By age two he simple had nowhere else to place his fore-paws. He had to drape them across my leg.
    When he was a kitten (we found him at about 9 weeks as a stray) he hated to be held. He just wanted to be part of the family, but my sister didn’t see it that way. He took to hiding under the couch and I helped hide him more than once. I think this speaks to strongly about temperament and personality factoring into his contact preferences, or in this case, the lack of.
    I remember he slept on my bed when I was away and was always with me when I was home. He was very devoted to me and my 12-14 yr old home life. He slept at the foot of the bed. Interestingly enough, he did climb on my chest once and use is paws/cold nose to wake me up. He had deduced that I was not going to school due to summer break and decided I was to give him second breakfast. I gave in. When my mom found out she was furious. We honestly couldn’t afford to feed him. Sadly he went feral once mom made it clear NO extra feedings. Broke my heart… still he was in the right. Luckily we had a freeway drainage pond that had ducks and geese for the feral cats to hunt and eat.

    My final conclusion, based on Nicky and the other cats I’ve learned about. They think they are part of the family and want to be part of everything. Many do pick that one luckily family member to shower with their attention on for life. Out of maybe 18 Maine Coon Cat owners that participated in our discussion board back in 2007, none of the big ones were lap cats which means size may be a factor. [I also think the really smaller ones may have been misclassified Siberians or Moogies of some kind] We also decided they make at least twenty different sounds. They like BIG KIBBLE and they will fetch a toy once, but then only bring it back half way for you to fetch. This is, or course, only being polite. Surely you don’t expect him to throw it you? >^.”.^< Dan

    • This is a excellent comment Dan as it really adds a lot to my post. Thanks a lot for the comment. Perhaps we can conclude that in general Maine Coons are not lap cats in the classic sense but close companions.

      That said, I make the point that are any cat breeds lap cats? I think it is a misconception.

  2. My MCs are lap cats. But, then, it’s only in certain places like when I’m having a cuppa talking to my hubby in the kitchen does Phatboy want to sit on my lap. Lyssy, will sit all over me too. I dont think its cos they want to be petted. Just be part of the conversation. My boy MC adores my husband to bits. He follows him everywhere.
    Interestingly, they are both hostile to visitors and tradesmen. However, they will drape themselves all over my mum and she doesn’t come over all that often! Mum must smell right 🙂

    • Well, thanks Jensen for that. You can’t beat first hand experiences. I think we should start keeping a record. I have a feeling though that MC’s tend not to be lap cats. Perhaps out of 100 MCs 30 will be lap cats, that sort of percentage. And yes, if you smell right you’re going to be sat upon by a cat.

  3. My Abby was never a lap cat, but before she gained weight she used to jump up on the bed. Now she’s a rocking 13-lbs at 6 years (she doesn’t overeat, I measure everything and no treats) and she barely makes it to the window sill! She tolerates me picking her up for a quick hug when I come home. If I don’t do that, she follows me whining until I DO pick her up, then she squirms like she wants to get down, LOL! It’s her way or the highway! I love her to pieces! She walks with a soft ball in her mouth, then drops it at my feet to toss. She chases it like a dog and returns it to my feet for another go. Bless her!

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